1. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tense

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Shadow Dragon, Sep 26, 2008.

    I've heard plenty of people say they dislike present tense, so I'm curious about what other writers here have to say about it. Is past tense really better than present or are they more or less equal in your opinion?
     
  2. FantasyWitch
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    FantasyWitch Contributing Member

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    present is harder. When i think of story telling I think of doing it by telling hat has passed or in third person, I can;t stand first person and such
     
  3. star_fire
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    star_fire Contributing Member

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    *shrug* i write from both the present and past tense. it seems to be easier to write in the past, but you really get more insight in the present.
     
  4. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't worry, I fully intend to do it in third person.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Past tense is far more natural sounding to the reader, and therefore better (less intrusive into the telling of the story). Furthermore, sloppy verbal storytelling that people do in present tense gives present tense and even more negative associtaion to the reader, which the writer has the task to overcome:
     
  6. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    I prefer to write in the past tense, and 97% of my work is in the past tense. But I do like to use the present tense as an impact device, because it marks the work as different from what has gone before. I only use it sparingly though, because it's harder to write than past tense.
     
  7. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    I'll just reiterate my points from another thread and say again that change for the sake of change is worthless. Unless your story needs to be in the present tense (which does create a strong sense of immediacy and urgency), you should avoid it.

    I'm also going to agree with Cogito - present tense makes storytelling very difficult, especially if you're relaying several events that occurred at different time frames.

    ...becomes:

    With some reworking, you can make it more comprehensible:

    ...but it's still very crowded and hard to convey any sense of time passing. You are required to jigger your sentences around, and many otherwise simple concepts become very difficult to convey.

    In short, don't use present tense unless you can't get the same effect another way. Using it because you can, or because you want to be different, is a recipe for crafting a substandard story.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Oh certainly! Variety is the spice of life, and of writing. But the question, as I saw it, was about the choice for the dominant narrative voice for a story.

    It's not only harder to write, it is much harder to read in large doses.
     
  9. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    For the most part I don't care for present tense. IMO a story is something that has already happened, and that's how I want to read it. I'm just old fashioned that way. Some people say that writing something in present tense makes it more "immediate," but unless it's like a flashback sequence in the middle of a past-tense work (in which case the present tense would stand out, and thus make it more immediate), it doesn't do that for me. (Because if the ENTIRE STORY is told in present tense, it loses its impact, IMO.)

    I don't even write down my dreams in present tense like many dream experts recommend. Writing that way doesn't help me remember them better because they have already happened. I just find it so irksome.

    And this doesn't take into account how many new writers just can't pull it off. They start out in present tense but somewhere along the way, they almost always lapse into past tense. It's something that should certainly not be attempted by new writers just getting acquainted with writing in PAST tense!

    But these are just my personal opinions. Some people like present tense. I won't say it's better or worse than any other tense because it isn't. I just don't prefer it, myself.
     
  10. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Past for me. I only like present tense in tiny doses, like when we're seeing the MC's stream of consciousness. Even scenes like that can get confusing.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    thanks, cog!... i'll just ditto all that...
     

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